I have been a fan of Supernatural since probably the episode leading up to the second season finale. Before that I was aware of the show, but I hadn’t really paid much attention to it. I think I had seen the pilot and wanted to get into it, but I was likely watching another bunch of shows and didn’t know how to handle another. Anyway, “All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 1” changed all of that. Dropping a show or two, I made the time and started Supernatural. I loved it. I still love it.
Somewhere in Season 9 I gave up for a bit. I know, for shame. The week to week episodes became hard to keep up with. Cut to six years later, and as Supernatural is set to finish its swan song season this October, I decided to catch up. And the journey has been fun in these later seasons filled with British monster-hunting militants, the return of Lucifer, and alternate dimensions. But the sheer highlight is perhaps my now favorite episode of all time: “Scoobynatural.”
For those who have never seen Supernatural, I probably can’t sum up 13 and a half seasons in a paragraph. Luckily, “Scoobynatural” is a stand-alone episode so you don’t really need to know too much to enjoy it. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are two monster hunters who help the rest of society out by attending to all the things that go bump in the night. Think X-Files without a government conspiracy. They are occasionally joined by a fallen angel that dresses like a ’50s noir P.I. named Castiel (Misha Collins). There, you’re ready to enjoy the show.
The episode starts off in regular Supernatural fashion: Dean is knocked to the ground by some off-camera monster and the music flares. His eyes widen in terror as he lies on the floor, anticipating an onslaught of nightmarish horror. The show brings these characters face to face with death (literally) on numerous occasions, so what possible creature is waiting for us this week?
As the camera cuts from Dean and focuses on his adversary, the viewer can’t help but laugh. We’re four seconds into the episode and the monster is a dollar store dinosaur costume. Picture Captain Kirk in Star Trek doing battle with the Gorn. Remember how cheesy the Gorn looks? Alright, now bring it down to the level of a man spinning a sign outside an ice cream parlor. From the start we know this isn’t going to be a storyline episode of Supernatural. Amid a solid yet tonally serious 13th season, the break is both unexpected and welcome.
Sam flies in and takes out the dino-mascot. He continues to bash the plush stuffed jaws of the monster until Dean can douse it in holy oil and light it up. The monster dissolves into a million embers of stuffing flying around what appears to be a pawn shop. The boys apologize to the shop owner about the mess, who in turn thanks them for saving his life. At this moment, a man walks in claiming to have heard a struggle from the next store. The man is very sleazy looking and the pawn shop owner mentions him owning half the town.
While the boys try to cover the real story to the real estate developer, the viewers can find a wonderful Easter egg behind Sam and Dean. A plush Mystery Machine is sitting on the steel of the rack behind them.
Sam and Dean know something doesn’t make sense here, but they’re not quite sure what. As they leave the store, the owner gifts Dean a new flat screen HDTV to head back to the bunker with. Beaming with excitement because they haven’t had a night off in ages, Dean readies an entire rec room around the television. Things get weird quick as a glowing light from the TV pulls them into an extremely animated reality very akin to the film Stay Tuned.
As far as setups go, I love that the show just goes to this place it’s never gone before. Yes, there is an episode from years ago where Loki subjects the boys to an alternate universe that brings the boys to the other side of the fourth wall. That episode, “The French Mistake,” brought Sam and Dean onto the set of Supernatural as Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. These comedic episodes have often been a highlight of the show over its 15 seasons and they’re always a blast. “Scoobynatural” is on a whole other level.
The boys recognize and adjust to their new cartoon forms, arguing over how the car has been brought into the cartoon as well. They hop in and drive around searching for answers, spotting the Mystery Machine at a malt shop. It strikes Dean that he and Sam aren’t just animated, they’re in Scooby-Doo.
What’s great is that Daphne, Fred, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby are played by the current voiceover cast from Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? The cast features Matthew Lillard, Kate Micucci, Frank Welker and Grey Griffin. Lillard, who also played Shaggy in the 2002 and 2004 live-action films, is still a phenomenal Shaggy and (hot take) should have probably received the job for this summer’s Scoob! (Sorry Will Forte.)
Everything about this interaction is fun. Supernatural has many parallels to Scooby-Doo and the episode insists on bridging the gap and poking fun at both, from Dean mimicking Shaggy and Scooby’s indulgent eating patterns to Castiel’s blunt, brutal honesty in the face of Shaggy’s fears. “Scoobynatural” plays to the strengths of both the iconic spooky shows and the viewer wins.
Dean and Sam ask to join the Scooby gang on their next adventure up to a haunted mansion where Scooby is receiving some inheritance from the passing of the house’s owner. As Dean tries to take on Fred and the Mystery Machine in a street race, the cars pull off the line and Dean gets left in Fred’s dust. Another fun dig, this time at Dean’s love of his ’67 Impala. As the cars drive on, a figure is seen running after the cars.
The viewer knows who it is immediately. Just like where Scooby–Doo isn’t very surprising, the viewer knows Castiel is coming and we’re giddy about it. I don’t want to write out this whole episode’s events, mostly because if you haven’t seen it and you’re a fan of either show you absolutely should. It’s fun, breezy entertainment, and it’s got a light ending in case maybe you’re not the biggest horror fan. But be warned, it does blend a bit of the violence of Supernatural with the innocence of Scooby-Doo.
Approaching the mansion, Dean figures out exactly which episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? they’re in. “A Night of Fright Is No Delight” was based on the classic William Castle film House on Haunted Hill and is one of the series’ most memorable episodes. The episode was so well received that in 1971 it was turned into a comic book as well.
I love Dean’s character in this episode. I feel like Jensen Ackles is always up for doing the sillier stories in Supernatural; his character less so. Dean’s heightened desire to work this case in combination with his nostalgia for a cartoon he loves gives him an amazing boisterousness that Dean seldom has. Add in Dean’s backstory of hunting with his father and having the only real normalcy in his life be seeing these characters on TV and the writers must be proud of the building they’ve done.
As the tables turn in the cartooniverse, bodies end up mutilated and dismembered and Shaggy even breaks his arm. The stakes are suddenly very real for the Scooby gang and Sam and Dean inform them that some ghosts are indeed real. This of course shatters the gang’s perception of reality causing them to spiral into mental collapse. The gang is accustomed to exclusively seeing ghosts for what they are: “unscrupulous land developers” in masks.
As the characters come together and the whole gang solves the case, Sam and Dean restore the cartoon to the way it’s supposed to end and they, along with Castiel, are transported home. As Dean puts a sorrowful early expiration on his new television, the cursed object that created the whole mess is found and the boys have to head back to the pawn shop. The shop owner, under pressure from the sleazy man who owns half the town, is about to sell his business. When the boys arrive, it appears they too have learned something from the Scooby gang.
Something to consider given how well this episode was received is that maybe the Supernatural: The Animation series could see some new episodes. I mean, it probably won’t, but a fan can dream, right? Would any of you lovely animators do it for a Scooby snack? What about humble begging?
I recently saw “Scoobynatural” for the first time, but it instantly became one of my favorites. I’d place it right up there with the Season 3 finale, “No Rest for the Wicked.” At that time I was watching on a weekly basis, and I was simply aghast at that cliffhanger. Still, “Scoobynatural” is now my number one, and it may be my favorite crossover as well. Superb job, Supernatural, and if I don’t get another chance, thank you for 15 years of great stories and fantastic entertainment. Cue the Kansas.